CALIFORNIA — Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) says it will be conducting a company-wide, full-scale emergency exercise to prepare for wildfire season this week.
During the five-day exercise, employees from across PG&E’s service territory simulate real-life events that could happen during a real Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS). The drills will include testing new procedures that aim to improve communications to customers, shorten the length of power outages, and reduce the number of customers affected when power has to be shut off in an effort to reduce the risk of wildfires.
As part of the drill on Friday, PG&E crews said they will patrol power lines by ground and helicopter in Shingletown, Magalia, Stirling City, Butte Meadows, Forest Ranch, Brownsville and east of Marysville, as well as other counties in Northern California.
Several real-world activities, including line inspections by both ground crews and helicopters, are happening to familiarize crews with conditions on the ground and provide additional inspections to lines in high-fire risk areas. During the drill, PG&E and contractor personnel will practice those inspections in order to reduce the time it takes to safely return electrical service to its customers.
No actual power interruptions will occur related to the drill, according to PG&E.
"The sole purpose of a PSPS is to reduce the risk of major wildfires caused by our infrastructure during severe weather," PG&E said in a news release. In the event of extreme weather conditions, PG&E says it will proactively de-energize lines, shutting off power for the safety of customers and communities.
During an actual shutoff event, crews will inspect every component along de-energized lines in high fire-risk areas —inspecting from the sky and from the ground—to identify and repair damaged lines or equipment before restoring power.